Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Geography Curriculum for K - 2nd

Today's review is on the geography materials that I put together to form a geography curriculum for my kids. I have been extremely pleased with these books and activities, and wanted to share them with those of you who are looking to supplement your child's lessons.

Today, a lot of schools don't even teach geography anymore, which I find disturbing. In fact, last year the National Assessment of Educational Progress reported that only 25% of U.S. students passed their geography test. When looking at the questions on the test I was pained to see how many children were unable to answer them correctly. In particular, I was upset to read that the ability to read a map is becoming a "lost art" due to the rise of technology. (Don't get me wrong, I think technology definitely has a place in society and the classroom, but I object to it being used without first teaching people how to decipher the answer without it.)

Seeing as how we want to raise children who can live in a global society, I think teaching geography should be mandatory. In my opinion, geography and culture go hand in hand. So I have put together my own geography curriculum using several materials that both my kids and I really love.

I use Beginning Geography Grades K-2 by Evan Moor Publishing as my core. This book is based on National Geography Standards and comes with 93 reproducible pages. This fabulous and covers the basics of geography. It is divided into four sections:

Map Skills - This section teaches kids how to read a map by covering things like the cardinal directions, what is a compass rose, map symbols, a map key, distance, borders, and map grids.

Landforms and Bodies of Water - Covers exactly what it says: hills & mountains, islands & volcanoes, deserts & plains, canyons & valleys, oceans, lakes & rivers.

Continents and Oceans - This section covers the seven continents and the four oceans. In addition, students learn about a globe and hemispheres.

Around the World with Animals - Introduces children to animals found around the world and the various regions where they live.

In addition, this book comes with two full-color maps. I love this book and am strongly considering ordering the Geography Centers to supplement it.

Here are a few more shots of the inside of the book:

Maps & Globes by Jack Knowlton is another good book. This is more of a history of geography for children. The illustrations are engaging, and the book introduces interesting facts like the first maps, (stick) charts, the first world maps, Magellan, and other historical bits. The second half of the books discusses the properties of maps such as the equator, lines of latitude and longitude, elevation, types of maps, and more. I think this book is adorable, and it inspired my son to create his own maps.

My World & Globe by Ira Wolfman is an introductory guide to geography. Inside you'll find information on maps, climate, animal, trade, language, etc. This book was supposed to come with stickers, but I bought a used version with no such thing, which is too bad, because there's some super cute ones. If you can find one with the stickers - grab it!

A World of Wonders, Geographic Travels in Verse and Rhyme by J. Patrick Lewis is a collection of clever and amusing poems filled with facts about our world. From Ferdinand Magellan's story to Angel Falls, these poems take children on a ride around the world. This book is mostly a supplement that I use to intersperse poems here and there. As part of their lessons each year, I have them memorize various poems. I like the ones in here because some are shorter, some are longer, but they all are fun.

In addition to these books, I have a globe that I use, and several maps and atlases that I keep handy. And of course, I am ALWAYS on the look out for other books and materials to use with my children. Geography is a fascinating subject. And there are more and more books now available to help children explore their world.

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